Who are the Real Stars?


In “Who are the REAL Stars in your Organization” written by David S. Cohen, four different types of performers are described: stars, keepers, deadwood, and viruses.  Many managers, public or private, unionized or not, would rather take the path of least resistance and not have serious performance discussions or take action to terminate individuals.

Stars:  It is easy to appreciate the star – they’re the people who demonstrate the right behaviors while achieving superior results.

Viruses:  These are top performers who exemplify what you DO NOT want your organization to stand for.  It may be tempting to put off performance and termination discussions because they contribute to the bottom-line.  By overlooking, condoning or supporting the bad behaviors of your best performers you completely discredit your leadership integrity.

Deadwood:  Deadwood are those employees who don’t perform or exhibit the right behaviors.  The decision to get rid of those individuals should be a no brainer, right?  Unfortunately organizations find it easy to let their deadwood continue to float down the river and pay a steep price.  A triple whammy occurs: productivity gets reduced, deadwood stay in place, and quality decays as other employees are demotivated by the passing appraisals the deadwood receive.

Keepers:  Keepers are often the beating heart of an organization’s culture.  They know the stories, provide a social network and organize the social events.  They can surface as problems somewhere down the line because they were promoted beyond their capabilities; or maybe management fails to provide them enough support along the way or they might simply need to be reassigned to a role that matches their skills and knowledge capabilities.  In hard times, looking at productivity numbers, keepers can be easy to let go – but be careful what that does to your culture and morale.  The cost and benefit need to be analyzed.  Skills and knowledge can be developed.  It is ALWAYS difficult to find individuals with the right values.

Today’s Impact:  The issue of keeping Viruses and Deadwood has become more serious as Gen Y and Gen Z will not tolerate working for too long in organizations that leaders don’t take action on their values.  So having brutally honest performance reviews has become a necessity today.

As a manager, you owe it to the keepers and stars to be honest about the deadwood and viruses and weed them out.  Everyone will benefit!